Conroe ISD Police Department Chief William Harness congratulates Conroe ISD Police officer LaQuoya Cook, College Park High School police officer, during the Conroe ISD Police Department D.A.R.E. Instructor Certification graduation ceremony at Conroe High School 9th grade campus. Conroe ISD Police Department hosted the two week instructor certification classes that were attended by officers from across the state. Photo by David Hopper.
After 14 years on the job, Conroe Independent School District Police Officer Mary Bice got her first crack this month at drug-awareness training for children.
She spent two full weeks learning how to draft curriculums for primary school children that were interactive, engaging and, most importantly would teach kids the importance of good decision-making.
“It’s wonderful, worth it and amazing, but it’s tough,” said Bice, who regularly patrols The Woodlands’ Knox Junior High. “I was up to 11 p.m. every night. The material was all new to me, but it was worth it.”
Bice was one of 29 officers selected for Texas’ first D.A.R.E. – Drug Abuse Resistance Education – officer training program in eight years.
The Conroe ISD Police Department hosted the drug training program, and 15 CISD police and officers from law enforcement agencies across the state were chosen. Several instructors walked the trainees through an intensive two-week, 80 hour training program, where they were taught about the program, how to develop a D.A.R.E. curriculum and how to talk about drug awareness to kids.
“It is a challenge; it’s like going through boot camp,” said Craig Fletcher, a retired HPD sergeant and the Texas D.A.R.E. state coordinator. “It’s not just something given to them. They have to work for it.”
The D.A.R.E. officer training was a curriculum of 20 different lessons, half geared toward elementary-aged children and the other portion toward intermediate and junior high school students.
After digesting the curriculum, the officers put their skills to the test. They went out to CISD’s Reaves Elementary and Travis Intermediate to talk to students about substance abuse, mostly focusing on alcohol and tobacco.
But the drug-awareness training isn’t just about drugs. After overhauling the curriculum several years ago, officers focus on the social and emotional aspects that lead kids to drug abuse.
“It doesn’t focus on drugs and violence. It’s about teaching kids a decision-making process,” said Bobby Robinson, the director of the Louisiana D.A.R.E. training center. He was invited to lecture and help train the officers.
After two weeks, 19 officers graduated from the training program, 11 of whom were from Conroe ISD’s police department.
Though Bice says there isn’t a problem with substance abuse at Knox Junior High, she was able to better understand the effects of peer pressure and how to help students cope.
“That’s one of the big things in our school, how to resist,” Bice said.
The D.A.R.E. officer training at CISD comes in the wake of synthetic LSD abuse across Montgomery County. A 16-year-old honors student from Montgomery High School died earlier this year from synthetic LSD abuse after spending the night with a friend in The Woodlands. One Oak Ridge High School student was reported to have been in a coma for nine days.
By instilling proper decision-making skills in children and addressing the social and emotional aspects surrounding peer pressure and substance abuse, CISD hopes to make strides in preventing future cases.
CISD’s police department attempted to bring the drug awareness program to the district for the past two years, but the cost was prohibitive. With the help of two, $10,000 grants from Montgomery County Crime Stoppers and the University of Phoenix, the police department was able to put up the $26,000 for the two-week program.
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